VALLEY PATRIOT EDITORIAL
Thanks to Lawrence Mayor Michael Sullivan, police officers in Lawrence will not be laid off this year, a firehouse will not close and DPW workers will be able to continue maintaining Lawrence’s ball fields, streets and sewer system without political interference by the Lawrence City Council.
Over the last three months, Sullivan has been called corrupt, racist, accused of theft and mismanagement, been the subject of wild conspiracy theories, and the target of a disinformation campaign by councilors so obsessed with making political points and grandstanding for the cameras that the facts fell by the wayside without any of them noticing … or caring.
Yet, while most councilors were getting down in the mud, pandering to the haters and the malcontents, hurling epithets at the mayor and creating a circus like atmosphere during council meetings, the one thing they were not doing was their job.
According to the Lawrence city charter and state law, the Lawrence city council has a legal obligation to go through the budget line-by-line at the sub-committee level and vote on each department’s spending plan individually. They never did that. They are legally obligated to make recommendations to the full council. They never did that. They were legally obligated to schedule a public hearing within seven days of receiving the budget. They didn’t do that. They are legally obligated to pass a budget before July 1st of any given year. They never did that. And, if the council wishes to reject a budget, they have a legal obligation to follow the process outlined in the charter and state law. Not surprisingly, they didn’t do that either.
In fact, for all the speeches that were made about how they are “experts on the charter”, “geniuses when it comes to state law”, and how much they “care about the taxpayers”, the whole time they were grandstanding they were violating the charter, oblivious to state law and ignoring the taxpayers.
Sadly for the people of Lawrence, the city council failed to perform their legal duties at every single step of this budget process.
And yet, despite all the unwarranted insults hurled against him (usually in his absence), Lawrence Mayor Michael Sullivan refused get down in the dirt with them. Showing much more class and professionalism than he was shown, Sullivan walked into city council chambers, announced that he had received approval for his budget from the state (without the city council) and then left the council chambers.
He didn’t give a long speech about how incompetent the city council is. He didn’t engage in name calling or respond to the temper tantrums thrown by councilor members. In fact, Sullivan didn’t make one disrespectful comment to the council, despite the fact that they truly deserved it. No, Lawrence Mayor Michael J. Sullivan showed the city council and the voters of Lawrence what being a true leader is all about: rising above the rhetoric, dismissing the personal attacks, and doing what was necessary to solve the problem.
He and his team (Carroll, Sweeney and Schiavone) proved with their behavior and hard work that they can get the job done under the most trying and politically explosive circumstances.
We would have some sympathy for those trying to hold the line on tax increases except for the fact that Lawrence has been sponging off the taxpayers from other communities for decades. It’s time for Lawrence taxpayers to start paying more for the costs they incur.
Mayor Sullivan deserves a tremendous amount of credit for sticking to his guns, defending the need for a $4 a week tax increase, and showing with his behavior (but not one disrespectful word) that problems can be solved without the need for personal attacks.